|Pub meetings help shape Leichhardt's view across the ranges to the northwest.|
Leichhardt’s travels between Newcastle and Moreton Bay during 1843-44 were overland via the New England Plateau and the Darling Downs, transiting the town of Limestone on the Bremer River, 25 miles (40km) southwest of Brisbane.
Limestone – renamed Ipswich in 1843 - was a flourishing mining town and transit point for bullock drays travelling between Brisbane and the Darling Downs.
In the Limestone district, Leichhardt visited John Kent’s station and paid a visit to Captain “Black” Jack Neale’s public house, located beside to what is now Old Toowoomba Road, in June 1843.
Leichhardt mentions his visit with Mr Kent in detail, including a climb up “limestone hill” (Polk’s Hill) where he could discern the line of the Dividing Range southwards past Cunningham’s Gap, and wrote a description of the soil and vegetation. Kent was the deputy assistant commissary and was therefore an influential source of knowledge of the region.
A newspaper article in 1989 suggested that the place for Kent and Leichhardt’s meeting was George Thorn’s Queen’s Arms Hotel on the corner of Brisbane and East Streets – initially a simple lodging house established in 1843 when Thorn retired after the convict settlement was closed, and within a few years becoming the first licensed premises in the town.
Ipswich was linked to Brisbane by paddlesteamer in services starting in 1846, and traffic along the Bremer and Brisbane Rivers increased dramatically, until the opening of the railway line in 1876.
The name of the suburb of One Mile, 3km southwest of central Ipswich, was changed to Leichhardt following a petition by the residents in 1953.
It lies immediately west of the Bremer River where it was crossed by Old Toowoomba Road. One Mile Park on the west side of the Bremer River was reserved in 1925, and had that name until 1930 when it was changed to Leichhardt, as the explorer reputedly camped there.
The suburb was officially renamed Leichhardt in 1956, the year the primary school was opened, and today offers a wide range of schools, parks and sporting facilities to its 3,380 residents (2011 census). In the 1850s the people of Ipswich hoped it would become the capital of Queensland.
Although Brisbane was ultimately chosen, Ipswich developed into a prosperous and confident city, as is apparent from its many imposing public buildings, fine mansions, historic homes and cottages and several of the oldest churches in Queensland.
As Queensland's oldest provincial city, Ipswich has a rich history. It is renowned for its architectural, natural and cultural heritage. Ipswich proudly preserves and still operates from many of its historical buildings and homes, with more than 6000 heritage-listed sites.
Ipswich also has a range of charming townships in the western rural areas of the city, each with its own claim of historical significance.
The Ipswich Historical Society website has an excellent collection of vintage coloured postcards and paintings depicting historical scenes around the city.
Above: Undated coloured postcard view looking west down Brisbane Street in Ipswich. (Ipswich Historical Society 8671897)
Above: Undated painting shows a panoramic view of Ipswich, with the Bremer River visible on the right.
|Above: View of Ipswich and the Bremer River, made in 1872. (Wikimedia Commons)
|Above: The only surviving image of George Thorn (Senior, 1806-1876) hangs in Old Parliament House in Brisbane: fittingly because the former publican, known as ‘the father of Ipswich’ went on to become a member of the first Queensland parliament in 1859. (State Library of Queensland 18315)|
|Above: Arterial road in the suburb of Leichhardt (Queensland) shows quite a different street scene to that of Leichhardt Municipality in Sydney. (Eknath Gavarasana / Wikimedia)|
|Above: Evening view of Ipswich out towards the distant ranges, with one of the city’s many fine churches strikingly illuminated. (Ipswich City Council)|